Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's a ...

Wow. I haven't had any boys for almost 9 years. This will be another grand adventure! Everything looked good as far as I know, and I don't want to know anything else. Brain, spine, heart, all good. Fingers, toes, all there. It was a good day!

10 Facts about Me and my Better Half

Seen at Melanie's Place. Sounds like fun:

1. We met on a a blind date set up by his ex-girlfriend.

2. We spent the first week before the blind date speaking on the phone daily, and I loved the sound of his voice. And that we had so much to talk about right away. And that he made me, Sober Suzie, laugh every 5 minutes or so.

3. We got engaged 6 weeks after we had our first date.

4. We played chess after dinner on our first date. He beat me in like, 6 moves. We have never played again.

6. The only game we can play peacefully (we are both very competitive) is cribbage. We played on our honeymoon, we still enjoy playing almost 19 years later, and the competitive edge doesn't rear its ugly head for some reason.

7. We are both first born children, and have spent much of our marriage "negotiating". We are definitely better at it than we were, praise God.

8. Our first born was our honeymoon souvenir. While in Hawaii, we flew over the Valley of Fertility. We should hit up that helicopter pilot for some college fund contributions right about now.

9. My husband is an entrepreneur specializing in risk management. I am highly risk adverse. We should write a book.

10. The man is positively brilliant. But he would forget to eat if is wasn't for me, so we make a terrific team.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I scheduled my ultrasound for tomorrow. I am nervous and excited to see the new member of our family. And I am relying on the prayer of Esther today, "Lord, save me from my fear." As I have said all along, this pregnancy has been accompanied with fear the entire time, and I have been desperately trying to put it aside. (I also began taking Vit. B supplements and think it might be helping a bit). At this point I may just have to let fear rip right through me so I can get on with my life and enjoy the miracle that this baby is.

Lord, save me from my fear.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Another Condundrum

So I am now 20 weeks along in this pregnancy. I am going to be optimistic and say slightly over half way since I have never gone to 40 weeks. I still can't quite wrap my brain around this pregnancy, for some reason. It is like getting all you every wanted, and then some more. Disbelief, shock, and awe at the abundance of it all.

So I have a prescription for an ultrasound in my hot little hand. My midwife didn't request one, I did, so whether I fulfill it or not is entirely up to me.

I was set on finding out the gender of this child early on, since I did with my past two babies, and I loved it. But now, I can't decide. Hmmm.

On one hand, it would make this more of a person and less of a "pregnancy" for me, mentally. My head might get all the way wrapped around this once I have seen this baby. The place I was referred to has the 4D ultrasound, and I have never had that before. Comes with pictures and a CD.

On the other hand, well, I don't know what the other hand is. I don't know why I am ambivalent. Fear, maybe. What if they see something that requires more testing, or more testing is recommended and I have to decide it I'll pursue it or not. I know of a few people who had fear put in their hearts regarding the health of their baby because of a few "markers" on the US, and it tormented the rest of their pregnancy.

Well, I don't suppose any of you can answer this for me. The last two pregnancies the midwife (a different one) wanted the US, so it wasn't up to me. This will be my intention at Liturgy tomorrow. I suppose there is no wrong or right answer for this one anyway.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One of My Favorite Sights

This was taken right as the last bit of snow was melting.
I love these bottles, in my bedroom, in front of the window. Makes me happy every day.

Monday, March 21, 2011

One of my Favorite Places

Most Holy Theotokos, pray to God for us!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It has been a LOVLEY TWO YEARS!

Two years ago I got to meet my little Melanie for the first time. Since then, I have just been soaking in her sweetness and light, and have been enjoying her more than I can say.

She brought me one of the happiest moments of my life:

You would think that after seven other births the eighth would have been more of the same, but I was given the grace of thanksgiving with Melanie's arrival. During the pregnancy, and her birth, and now her first two years, nothing has seemed terribly difficult, because I have been able, through God's grace, to see it all in perspective. Gift. Every sacrifice has been balanced with love.

During my pregnancy with Melanie, I felt carried, bestowed with peace.

This pregnancy has been more challenging, but I am drawing on my memories to assist me. It is as if Melanie's arrival was a time when God was holding my hands, helping me take every step.

Now, it seems as if I am toddling more on my own, but I know God is right there, cheering my progress and scooping me up when I loose my balance.

I had no idea how Melanie would impact my life past the reality of her being in it. But she has truly been a gift of comfort to me, and reminder of the security of my place as a child of God.

One thing I never anticipated is that Melanie would be a big sister. This year will bring that gift to her, and I can not wait to share that joy with her.

Also, sharing Melanie with all her siblings has been one of the largest blessings of my life. This is a girl with a place in the world, a place, so far, of unconditional love. There is nothing better for teens than to be able to give unconditional love, and then to receive it right back from an adoring little sister.

We will be having a lovely day, celebrating the Feast Day St. Patrick, the birth of our little Melanie, and the first day in the 60 degree range so far this spring. It is shaping up to be a day of joy, and I intend to continue to soak up the blessings!

Happy Birthday Sweet Melanie~

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pre-Sanctified Gifts

My commitment this Lent is to go to the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts every Friday evening. However, my 12 year old son asked to go last night, even though we would necessarily be a bit late due to choir practice (secular, not church choir). Dinner was on for the rest of the family, the older child in charge said she could handle the rest of dinner and the little ones, so Dear Son and I headed out.

We arrived near the end of Psalm 103:

"The sun knows the time of its setting:
You establish darkness and it is night.
How great are Your works O Lord!
In wisdom You have wrought them all."

Then the Litany of Peace, part of which is:

"That we may be delivered from all distress, wrath, tribulation, and want, let us pray to the Lord"

"Lord, Have Mercy"

Then Psalm 119, 120, 121, 122, 123..

At this point I feel I am taking real breathes for the first time all day. My shoulders drop, my forehead relaxes. Yes, Holy Mother Church is nurturing me, soothing me.

As I sing, "Let my prayer rise like incense before You, and the lifting of my hands, like an evening sacrifice. Hear You me, O Lord!" I feel the depths of my heart pouring out to its creator. My son sings with me, and I realize this moment is a gift, and a treasure, and so unexpected. My boy, who that very day had expressed his transition from childhood by giving many of his toys to his younger brother during a cleaning session, was praying with me, resting in the Lord with me, after a long, productive day.

Then comes the Prayer of St. Ephrem. In the translation we use at church, the word "faint-hearted" is stated as "acquisitiveness". I know I have to discipline myself in this area as well, as evidenced by the need for the "40 Bags in 40 Days" I am participating in again. I don't yet see the connection between "faint-heartedness" and "acquisitiveness", but then, Lent has just begun.

Shorty, we are at the "Great Entrance", when the Pre-Sanctified Gifts are escorted through the church. During the week in Great Lent, there are no consecrations: Sunday is the only day the Eucharist is consecrated, with the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts taking place Wednesday and Friday during the week.

"Now the powers of heaven
Minister with us in an invisible manner;
For, lo, the King of glory is coming

And, behold, the Mystic Sacrifice
Pre-sanctified and perfected is escorted in.
Let us approach with eager faith,
So as to become sharers in eternal life.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia"

Then the priest carries in Our Lord, from the side altar of repose, out of the iconostas, around the church, and back to the altar thorough the Royal Doors, in silence, while the congregants prostrate themselves. The solemnity and experience of God amongst us brings tears.

Another Litany, with all the begging for mercy, followed by the Our Father, and then, Communion. The Bread of Life.

Another Psalm (33):

Approach the Lord and be enlightened,
and your face shall never be shamed.
The poor cried out, and the Lord heard them
and delivered them from all their afflictions.

And then a blessing, and dismissal.

And the day was finished.

Every year, the beauty and nurturing quality of the Pre-sanctified Liturgy takes me by surprise, sort of knocks the air right out of me, so I can take a real, deep cleansing breath.

This year more than ever I feel the gentle hand of the church on my head, guiding me, tending to me, strengthening me in my weakness.

Blessed be the name of the Lord, henceforth, and forever!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Lenten Reflection

From Alexander Schmemann's "Great Lent", straight to the depths of my soul:

"The basic disease is sloth. It is that strange laziness and passivity of our entire being which always pushes us "down" rather than "up" - which constantly convinces us that no change is possible and therefore desirable. It is in fact a deeply rooted cynicism which to every spiritual challenge responds "what for?" and makes our life one tremendous spiritual waste. It is the root of all sin becuase it poisons the spiritual energy at its very source."

The first step to healing is proper diagnosis. I see myself clearly in this little paragraph, and as I went on reading this morning, the next few paragraphs were even more startling. I am far more sick than I thought, spiritually speaking, but then deep down I knew that. The next word that comes up is "faint-heartedness". And oh, my, yes I am. This pregnancy has brought that straight to the top. One of the gifts of this pregnancy is that I am finding it impossible to look aside from my fears and weaknesses, they are right at the top, all the time. Lent is here, at the perfect time to tend to me, thank the Good Lord. The medicine today is simple, the prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian:

O Lord and Master of my life!
Take from me the spirit of sloth,
faint-heartedness, lust of power and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity,
humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King!
Grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother;
For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Great Prokimenon of Vespers

From Forgiveness Vespers, the beginning of Great Lent:

Hide not your face from Your servant, for I am in distress; answer quickly, answer quickly, come close to my soul, and redeem me.

v. I am poor and in pain, O God; let your power save me.

Hide not your face from Your servant, for I am in distress; answer quickly, answer quickly, come close to my soul, and redeem me.

v. Let the poor see and rejoice. Seek the Lord and your souls shall find life.

Hide not your face from Your servant, for I am in distress; answer quickly, answer quickly, come close to my soul, and redeem me.

Forgive me,brothers and sisters, for the wrongs I have done, in word, or deed, or thought, with all my faculties, with reflection, or out of uncontrolled emotion.

May you have a blessed Lenten Season!

Friday, March 04, 2011

7 Quick Takes Lenten Edition

Quick Takes, Lenten Edition

This weeks Takes are being hosted by Betty Beguiles. Here are mine this week, focusing on Lenten Intentions:

1: Spiritual Reading: I want to narrow it down between the Psalms (all of them, in order, until Lent is over), The Cannon of St. Andrew, or the Jesus Prayer (I have a few books about both of these). Leaning toward the Psalms.

2: Fasting: We won't be strictly following the fast this year, due to the pregnancy and all. But I will commit to doing vegan Wednesday and Fridays, usually with soup, salad and bread. The rest of the week I'll keep it simple and nutritious the best I can, but I won't commit to vegan. Also, I have to eat two eggs for breakfast, and keep up around 100g protein a day. That will require meat and cheese.

3: Yogurt and eggs: I intend to consider yogurt and eggs not dairy for fasting purposes. In other words, I will eat two eggs for breakfast, but will forgo the butter on my toast. I'll have guacamole with Greek yogurt for a snack, but leave off the melted cheese. I won't indulge in brie or aged cheddar, but may eat a slice of cheese if I feel the need for a quick boost of protein. This year will be the SPIRIT of the fast, not necessarily the Law.

4: Attend Pre-sanctified Liturgy every Friday. There is no reason I can't make this work, except giving in to fatigue. But I can sit and rest at church if I must. I will commit to being there, and praying, not to standing through everything or doing every prostration (although I do intend to try).

5: 40 Bags in 40 Days: I did this last year, and it was a change that stuck. I will commit to bagging up at least one bag of things to take out of my home every day. Probably more. I am actually looking forward to it this year.

6: Gratitude: Seriously express gratitude about something every day. I don't know the outlet for this yet. But I would like to make it person to person. Occasionally it will be person to God. But the more grateful I become the less sensitive I become, and the feeling of disappointment lessens. But for me disappointment is a habit, so I anticipate this will be a long road to haul, to retrain my thoughts. But I must begin somewhere, right?

7: Savor my family. I have spend far too long seeing the people in my house as obstacles to the formation of perfect me. And now my oldest will be going to college in the fall. I will. not. waste. another day being frustrated with daily duties being constant and incomplete. That is life. My home will not be perfectly clean until it is empty. Savor them, savor them, savor them.

And that's all, folks. Plenty, really, isn't it?